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Four Bridges

Four Bridges

Hirschman, Ed


  • Ensemble: Brass Quintet
  • Genre: Modern Classical
  • Grade: 5
  • Duration: 13.0 minutes
  • Catalog Number: ABP503

Winner of the Ars Nova Brass Quintet 2005 Composition Competition

Four Bridges for Brass Quintet represents the intersection of two of my primary areas of interest and experience; music and engineering. Their fusion is an audible architecture that attempts to capture the spirit and even the physical manifestation of these incredible structures. As each bridge has its own unique character, each movement is introduced by a different musical instrument. 

Overall Duration   c. 13' 05'
1. Movement I - Brooklyn Bridge  (c. 4' 10")
2. Movement II - Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge (c. 1' 45")  
3. Movement III - Tacoma Narrows Bridge (c. 3' 28")
4. Movement IV - Golden Gate Bridge (c. 3' 43")

Movement I - Brooklyn Bridge
"Easily the most historic and fascinating of the five major bridges connecting the island of Manhattan to other shores, the Brooklyn Bridge is a synthesis of art and engineering. Even before it opened on May 23, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge became a symbol of the greatness of New York and American ingenuity".   

In this opening movement, I tried to convey the sense of beauty, wonderment, excitement and hope that this American icon instilled at the time of its creation. The movement's three themes swirl into one as the movement concludes.

Movement II - Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge
"The Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, part of The Big Dig Project in Boston, first opened to traffic in 2003. It is the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world and features a unique, asymmetrical design that supports 6 northbound and 4 southbound lanes. This stunning new structure has instantly become a highlight of the city's skyline." 

As the newest and most modern of the bridges represented, this movement is deservedly the most modern sounding of the four. The melodic contour mirrors the physical layout of the bridge's 10 lanes.

Movement III - Tacoma Narrows Bridge
"The original, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, popularly known as "Galloping Gertie," opened on July 1, 1940 to connect the Washington mainland to the Olympic Peninsula. On November 7, 1940, wind-induced vibrations caused the bridge to spectacularly rock, buckle and twist until it violently collapsed and crashed into the icy cold water of the Puget Sound below." 

The famous video of this bridge disintegrating is well known to most engineers (and people that enjoy the History Channel). Like the bridge itself, this movement begins peacefully and innocently and eventually devolves into chaos and destruction. The idea of recreating the Tacoma Narrows in music was very appealing and became the inspiration for the entire piece. The active listener may discern a musical pun towards the end of this movement.

Movement IV - Golden Gate Bridge
"The Golden Gate Bridge opened on May 28, 1937 after just four years of construction. At the time, its 4,200-foot single clear span was the longest in the world - a record held for another 27 years. The bridge's towers are 746 feet high and stand almost 200 feet taller than the Washington Monument. As one of the "Seven Wonders of the Modern World," the Golden Gate Bridge continues to astound and inspire." 

I tried to capture the power and grandeur of the Golden Gate, which is arguably the most famous bridge in the world. Musical suspensions ("sus chords") in the main theme were inspired by this massive suspension bridge. Within the sheet music you can see (and as a listener you can hear) the shape of the bridge itself appear in the middle of the movement.
Trumpet parts are provided in C and B♭.

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